of the Swan River Valley
100 Years in the
Swan River Valley
1898 - 1998
Wes and Amy Booth
In 1935, Wes and Amy Booth lived in Laurier, MB with their three sons, Norman, Wilbert, John and their daughter, Eva. They heard that farming was good in the Swan Valley, so Norman and John rode their bicycles from Laurier to Swan River, about 140 miles, mostly gravel at that time. They found a quarter section 7 1/4 miles north-east of Minitonas-known as the Jeffery place.
They returned home, then proceeded to move their goods by horse and wagon. Wilbert was working out so Norman and John did the hauling. Norman told many stories of their trips, and of the good people they met along the way. The final trip was made in August. They put a small granary on one wagon for Wes and Amy. Eva and John walked all the way driving the cattle. It took eleven days to make the trip and they were glad to get to the house that Norman and John had fixed up for the family.
Eva went to Oakhurst School about 2 3/4 miles from home for three years. Like all the rural schools at the time, it was overcrowded. Every quarter section had a family living on it. It was decided that a new school was needed so a group got together and formed the School District of North’s Creek. A new school was built between Oakhurst, Sinclair River and West Favelle Districts to take students from all three. Mr. W. Dalton was secretary and he advertised for a teacher. They received many applications as there was a surplus of teachers all over Manitoba. They settled on one, Anne Strong from Argyle, MB. She arrived the middle of August, 1938. She was 19 years old, fresh out of Normal School, and had never been in a one-room rural school. On her first day, she faced about forty pupils grades one to ten, from the three different schools. Her Grade Ten pupil was Eva Booth. Eva introduced Anne to her brother, Norman, and it wasn’t long before Norman and Anne were going to fowl suppers, dances, concerts, etc. together.
Anne taught at North’s Creek for two years, then went home to Argyle to teach. Her three brothers were in the forces. In June, 1942, when her brothers were able to get leave, Anne and Norman were married in Argyle, and then settled on the home farm near North’s Creek.
Wes Booth had never fully recovered from the flu of 1920 and he suffered with asthma but he was always cheerful and willing to help with the farm work when he could. Amy came to be known in the district as Granny and was loved and respected by all. Wes and Amy moved to the Bower place when Norman and Anne were married, and later when John went overseas, they moved to the Hodgson farm. Eva and Marilyn lived with them for several years. Mr. Booth died in 1952. Amy lived with Wes and Eva for a number of years. She moved to the Lodge, then to Personal Care, where she died in 1980.
Wilbert wasn’t home much after they moved to the Valley. He went to Edmonton where he took a course in Diesel Engineering. In 1939, when war broke out, he joined the Army. He went overseas the same year, served in England, Italy, and France. He met a young lady in England, Adelia Ord Hume, and they were married in 1943. After the war, he and Adelia settled on a farm 2 1/4 miles south-west of North’s Creek. Their two children were born while they lived there. When Martin and Linda were three and two years old, Wilbert and Adelia moved back to England. Wilbert got work in London, and the children went to school. Martin married Eleanor Bunker in 1972 and they immigrated from England to Australia where they now live with their four daughters. Linda married Roger Keiswetter and they also live near Sydney, Australia. They have two boys and one girl.
John joined the Army and went overseas in 1942. He served in France and Holland. When the war was over, he came home and later married Thelma Everson. They lived on the Everson farm in the Grahamville district for years, then moved to Swan River. John was active in the Legion, was on the Board of Directors of the Historical Society, and of the Credit Union, and he wrote the “Looking Back” column in the Swan Star for a number of years. Thelma worked for the Credit Union, then for the Legion in Swan. They had many friends who missed them when John died in 1989 and Thelma in 1992.
Eva married Chris Brown in 1939, and they lived on a farm in the Renwer area. Marilyn was born in 1941, and Chris died in 1944. Eva and Marilyn lived with her parents during the war years. Marilyn went to Oakhurst, Grahamville and Sinclair schools. She got her High School in Minitonas, then married Ed Baskier. They had two daughters, Jacqueline and Barbara and one son, Eldon. After Ed retired, they moved to Winnipeg where they now live.
In 1949, Eva married Wes Magill who was a veteran with five years active service overseas. They farmed in the Sinclair River District until Wes became ill. They had three boys. Melvin married Darlene Swanson. They live in Winnipeg and have two sons, Allan and Travis. Brian married Dianne Twilley. They also live in Winnipeg and they have two sons, Daniel and Tyson, and a daughter, Brittany. Douglas lives in Edmonton, and is not married.
Farming changed very quickly during the War Years. In 1942, the grain was cut with a binder pulled by four horses. The sheaves were stocked and the men joined a threshing gang. Archie Janz owned a threshing machine and did the threshing for the farmers who worked for him. As help got harder to get, the outfits became smaller. John Dalton bought a separator, threshed for himself and three neighbors including the Booths. Norman was able to buy a small tractor which made work easier, but it meant he had to have someone on the binder. Soon after, John Dalton bought a combine. Norman worked with him and the binder was put away for good. There were always some horses on the farm but the tractor was used for most of the farm work.
The roads at the time were often just mud without gravel. They were excellent in dry weather but could be treacherous when it rained. Norman and Anne travelled by bicycle, horse and buggy or wagon for the first two years, then got an old truck converted from a car. In the winter the roads filled up with snow and the truck or car was put away until spring and horses pulled cutters, sleighs or toboggans all winter.
Norman and Anne raised four boys on the farm. They all attended North’s Creek School, then went to High School in Minitonas. Jim moved to Winnipeg and has been working for Pepsi (formerly Blackwoods) for 28 years. He married Joanne Hnatshen, who, after obtaining her Master’s degree in English, taught school for a number of years. They live in the St. James area in Winnipeg.
Alan attended Red River Community College after completing Grade XII, and now works for Highways. He married Kathy Winch and they have one daughter, Sherri. Kathy teaches at Taylor School in Swan River. Sherri is married and lives in Vernon, BC.
Howard married Judy Cameron and made his home in Calgary. They have one daughter, Katy. Howard worked for many years for Shell Oil and was transferred to Sarnia. while they lived there, Howard was stricken with cancer, and he died in January, 1997. Judy and Katy moved back to Calgary where Judy works for Shell Oil, and Katy goes to school.
Ted married Donna Lundgren and they live in Summerland, BC. They have four children, Sarah, Erin,Wesley and Amy. Ted has a small business where he manufactures greenhouses, truck caps, etc. from fiberglass.
Norman and Anne sold the farm in 1973 and bought a house and an acreage in Minitonas. Anne taught Grade Two at Minitonas until 1979 when she retired. Norman had a large garden and raised chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese for many years. Their grandchildren spent many happy summers with them. In 1994, Anne and Norman moved to Swan River. Norman passed away in November, 1995.
Submitted by: Anne Booth
Manitoba's Swan River Valley is an area rich in history. These family histories were a part of the 1998 Pioneer Centennial History Book project. If you would like the history of your area available online, have your historic group contact the Key Rock Group for information on electronic publication. We offer publication free of charge and also provide the option for making your history book available on CD.